National Historic Site or Park

Thomas Cole NHS

The Thomas Cole House (Cedar Grove) is now a National Historic Landmark. It includes the home and the studio of painter Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School of American painting. Cole lived in the home and used the studios from 1833 through his death in 1848. The Old Studio served as Thomas Cole’s primary studio between 1839 and 1846.

Cole’s student Frederic Edwin Church became a close friend of the family and sketched much of Cedar Grove in 1848. Church’s Olana estate is across the river.

Thomas Edison NHP

Thomas Edison National Historical Park contains Thomas Edison‘s laboratory and Glenmont residence (which was closed when we visited).  The park is in West Orange, New Jersey. You’ll be amazed by all inventions that originated out of these laboratories (e.g., motion picture camera, improved phonographs, sound recordings, silent and sound movies, and the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery.

The laboratory was designated as Edison Laboratory National Monument on July 14, 1956.


Springfield Armory historic photo

Springfield Armory NHS

Reconstruction of the barracks at James Fort by Steven Michael Martin at


Dudley Digges House, circa 1760 Historic Yorktown by Steven Michael Martin at

Yorktown and Yorktown Victory Monument

The Yorktown monument was commissioned by the Continental Congress in 1781 to commemorate the great victory.  A 95-foot monument, it commemorates the French-American victory when generals Washington, Rochambeau, the Comte de Grasse, and the Marquis de Lafayette defeated Lord Cornwallis, who waited to be rescued by an expected British flotilla.  The Continental Congress agreed to erect the monument in 1781, right after the October victory, but it wasn’t built for nearly 100 years.

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP – Woodstock

“On a brisk autumn day, the view from the sprawling porch of the mansion at the center of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, Vermont, is of ancient, rolling hills flush with the changing seasons. Sugar maples flare red, beeches are butter-yellow, and centuries-old hemlocks hold fast to thick green canopies.

Today the park includes the oldest sustainably managed woodland in North America. It’s hard to imagine, given the current fullness of the landscape, that this 550-acre park east of the Green Mountains was once a burned-out, tilled-over, flood-ridden shadow of its present self. The park also celebrates three famous families who made this place home, each contributing in its own way to the history of conservation and the evolution of land stewardship.

Frederick Billings, who was born in nearby Royalton, emulated George Marsh and bought the estate in 1869. Billings had made a fortune as a lawyer and real estate developer out West, running the Northern Pacific Railway; Billings, Montana, was named in his honor. After seeing Yosemite as one of its first tourists, he agitated for national parks throughout the West, including Yellowstone, Glacier, and Mount Rainier.

One of Billings’s daughters, Mary, had a daughter also named Mary, who married Laurance Spelman Rockefeller in Woodstock in 1934. Rockefeller was the fourth child of Abby Aldrich and conservationist-philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. (who contributed immeasurably to the founding and financing of several national parks). Mary and Laurance came together over a love of the outdoors, and the estate that Mary inherited from her mother came to hold a special place in Laurance’s heart. What he saw and learned and felt there— along the paths where his wife rode her pony endlessly as a child— no doubt contributed to his conservation philosophy and philanthropy.

Out of this modest patch of east-central Vermont grew some of the most cutting-edge thinking about both human influence on the environment and balance in the natural world. The park’s meticulously maintained two-story brick mansion features works from master Hudson River School painters. Romantic, gauzy scenes of Yosemite and the Grand Tetons beckon the traveler, and the Park Service is improving nesting sites for wood thrushes, ovenbirds, and at least four types of warblers.

Current park superintendent Mike Creasey sees a clear link between the past conservationists who lived there and the present. “Marsh seemed to belong to a worn-out planet,” he says. And yet, “In that house on the hill, in this place in a Vermont valley, those three changed our understanding of our relationship to nature and our obligation to the present and beyond.”

Hansen, Heather (2015-10-20). Prophets and Moguls, Rangers and Rogues, Bison and Bears: 100 Years of the National Park Service (Kindle Locations 545-547). Mountaineers Books. Kindle Edition.